The music business snapped a 12-year losing streak in 2012, according to a new report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
The 0.3 percent jump in revenue was small, but is important symbolically. No sector of the entertainment business has been harder hit by the move from physical to digital consumption of media. Over the past decade, once-mighty music labels such as EMI or Sony Music have shrunk or been auctioned off to competitors, while major acts have turned from records to touring to make their millions.
But there are signs that an industry that has never really recovered from the threat posed by piracy has, at the very least, stabilized.
Global recorded music revenues increased to $16.5 billion globally, which was still a substantial drop from a high of $27.8 billion in 1999. The stabilization of the music industry echoes that of the home entertainment sector, which arrested a seven-year fall in 2012 and saw revenue edge up 0.23 percent to $18 billion, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.
The music industry's digital revenue also continued to grow and has begun to patch up the hole left by declines in disc sales. Digital revenues increased by an estimated 9 percent to $5.6 billion in 2012 and now accounts for around 34 per cent of global industry revenues, the study found.
Sales of music downloads also rose 12 percent last year and now make up 70 percent of the overall digital music business. Another source of those web revenues enjoyed robust growth as the number of people paying to use subscription services like Spotify increased 44 percent in 2012 to 20 million.
The IFPI also included a list of the top selling albums and singles of the past year. Adele, who picked up an Oscar for penning the theme song to "Skyfall" last weekend, topped the album charts with her hit record "21," which moved 8.3 million units. That was 3 million more units than runners-up Taylor Swift and One Direction.
In the singles category, Carly Rae Jepsen was tops with her ubiquitous anthem "Call Me Maybe," moving 12.5 million units.